Del Papa Taps Into the IoT to Improve Beer Distribution Center

A new DC, built with IoT technology from the ground up, is helping Del Papa Distributing Co. to boost productivity while cutting energy use.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
Feb 23, 2015

More than a century ago, Italian immigrant Omero Del Papa established a company in Galveston, Texas. Today, that firm, Del Papa Distributing, delivers more than 10 million cases of beer annually for 30 suppliers, ranging from beer giant Anheuser-Busch to small craft brewers and energy drink manufactures, such as Red Bull.

But during that century of growth, operating the flagship location grew increasingly complex as new warehouse-management systems, communication technologies and building energy-management solutions were deployed. By 2010, it was time move to away from Galveston, says Steve Holtsclaw, Del Papa Distributing's director of information systems. "Ownership was tired of recovering from hurricanes, dealing with legacy equipment, an old building, and we were not in a central location," he explains. "We were looking for a more stable facility."

The interior of the new DC
In 2012, Del Papa opened a new distribution center in Texas City, Texas, having worked with Zones, a value-added reseller of connected communication networks and sensor systems, to integrate many of the new facility's systems into an IoT solution that has helped the company boost operational efficiency by 18 percent, as well as cut energy consumption by 27 percent throughout the past three years.

Zones built the IoT system on a Cisco platform that links all of the new facility's various systems—voice-over internet protocol (VOIP) phones, including wireless VOIP handsets that employees carry so that they can always be reached within the building; a Cisco TelePresence system that allows Del Papa's employees at different locations to collaborate via video conferencing; video surveillance cameras; physical access controls for gates and doors; digital signage for employee messaging; temperature sensors in the warehouse, and inside keg refrigeration units linked to the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units; and the warehouse-management software's voice-based picking system—into a single network running on Cisco cloud servers and accessible via a virtual private network (VPN).

All told, the system has digitally linked more than 2,000 devices and sensors that perform a range of functions, such as monitoring the environment within the DC, energy usage, network traffic and employees' approximate locations.

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